It’s been five years since The xx released an album but sometimes the wait proves to be worth it and it was definitely worth it in this instance. On their long-awaited third studio album ‘I See You’ the Wandsworth-trio shed their shy persona in favour of a bolder, more daring personality.
Filled with charismatic cuts from start to finish, the album opens in strange fashion with ‘Dangerous’ and allows us to see The xx as we’ve never seen them before.
The subdued, awkward charm that saw fans first fall in love with the teenage trio in 2009 is no more – we’re now met with a group of late 20s-something artists who have matured and showcase confidence in their music.
‘Dangerous’ is the result of this and kicks the album off on a euphoric note, featuring synthetic horns that will shock and impress even the greatest fans of The xx.
Album tracks, ‘Say Something Loving’ and ‘On Hold’ were issued to the public a short while ago to tease the album’s release and it could be argued that they certainly did the job.
The former is a luscious number that continues the new-found vibrancy the band dabble in throughout the album, whilst ‘On Hold’ sees a sample of Hall & Oates present – it’s a stroke of genius and another step forward for a band that can seemingly do no wrong.
‘Brave For You’ offers vocalist Romy Madley Croft the chance to go it alone and boy, does she shine as she sings memorable lyrics, such as: ‘I will be brave for you, stand on a stage for you, do the things that I’m afraid to do.’ The slower-paced track is also the closest The xx get to their 2009 debut album selves – injecting a much-needed dose of nostalgia.
‘A Violent Noise’ is another stride of confidence which sees co-vocalist, Oliver Sim sing over a Euro-house style backbone that might feel more at home at a 90s’ garage rave.
Elsewhere, ‘Performance’ sees Romy slip into a confessional tone as she admits to feelings of fragility and self-doubt – two themes that have often threaded throughout The xx’s previous material.
Perhaps one of the most underrated tracks on the album, ‘Lips’ is upbeat and full of rhythm, offering a chance for the trio to reflect on how they’ve matured over the last five years or so.
‘I See You’ is an unexpectedly infectious release from The xx who have never been filled with as much confidence as they reveal on their third studio album. Band member Jamie Smith (known more commonly as Jamie xx) is thought to be responsible for the sassy attitude they’re now wearing like a badge of honour. The swelling instrumentals that feature on the record are similar to those that defined his 2015 solo record ‘In Colour’.
All three members of The xx no longer glance shyly in the mirror, they confront their reflection with a complete and brilliant ‘go get em’ attitude and that’s when we see them at their best.